A Note from Rev. Holly Bandel
June 21, 2017
In my daily reading of the Bible this Spring, I ran across a little known story of Caleb’s daughter, Achsah in Joshua 15:13-19. Then, as I read further, she showed up again in chapter 1 of Judges. To be honest, I had never noticed her before. When her father gives her away in marriage to the man who conquers land for him, she comes back and asks for a piece of land. This action was a subtle undercut of the rules of the day for women. She asks intentionally for a piece of land that has springs. This piece of land would secure her well-being and her family’s because of its water resources. Achsah is a passive character in the Bible because of being given away in marriage, but also an active one in asking for what would secure her and her family.
I find this scripture fascinating as it highlights one of many people we meet in the Bible who are created by God and faithful in response to God’s goodness and grace. Her story is significant as it lifts up the unfair rules of the day that she challenges and yet does so with the assurance of God’s faithfulness to her. She follows in the legacy of Caleb who was the one with Joshua who spied on the promised land and encouraged the Israelites to move forward with courage and inhabit the land. Their other ten comrades convinced the nation that it was too dangerous and played on the people’s fears. The consequence of the decision not to enter the land was to wander in the wilderness for a generation.
This story relates to my own as I reflect on Psalm 139 and being “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I am a people-loving, talkative and often impatient person. I like to pursue goals and move the needle toward compassion and justice. I probably would not have been as subtle as Caleb’s daughter. What we each have in common with Caleb’s daughter is that we are made in the image of God and given certain gifts and voices for certain times and places.
Caleb’s daughter also reminds me of the stories of others I have grown to know in mission and ministry. Many people around us are hindered by the unfair rules of our world. It takes great strength to ask. The scripture challenges me to be aware of those who are afraid to ask for what they need or have tried to ask and are now discouraged by oppressive situations and systems. One of my favorite scriptures for this season of my life is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” It’s a question and our action is the answer.
It is a joy for me to enter into the land of First United Methodist Church of Dallas. You have already extended such great hospitality to me through your pastors, staff and lay leaders. I look forward to our journey in ministry together as we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Holly G. Bandel
Associate Minister for Mission & Advocacy